The aviation industry’s first auto throttle developed for a non-full authority digital engine control (FADEC)-equipped turboprop aircraft is closer to becoming a reality. A new integrated flight management system-powered avionics suite with LPV approach capability for the Pilatus PC-12 could make this a reality within the next month.
Innovative Solutions and Support (IS&S) first showed the NextGen flight deck for the PC-12 at the 2015 NBAA conference. One of its most desired features include the first autothrottle developed for a non-FADEC turboprop that manages the PT6 engine and prevents it from over torque and over temperature, according to Shahram Askarpour, IS&S' president.
The autothrottle boasts an automatic take-off and go-around mode that smoothly brings the engine to max power in a few short seconds. When pilots move the throttle in a position that would under-speed the airplane or over-speed the engine, it shakes the throttle handle like a stick shake, so the pilot can move the throttle up and get a tactical feedback of the position and operating speed.
“The system computes thrust, holds selected speed/torque, and implements appropriate limit protection. When engaged by the pilot, the Autothrottle system adjusts the throttles automatically to achieve and hold the selected airspeed guarded by a torque/temperature limit mode,” Askarpour told Avionics.
While the NextGen flight deck itself has already earned an STC, the autothrottle capability is currently still within the certification process, with certification expected within the next month. Featured within the hardwired integrated avionics setup are three LCD displays, an integrated standby unit, PT6 engine data concentrator unit, two Beta-3 GPS units, remote radios and an integrated dual flight management system supporting RNP and LPV approaches.
Certification of the flight deck was originally expected in early 2016, but some of the more advanced communication, navigation and surveillance capabilities extended that process.
"As this is the first autothrottle in a turboprop, the certification process has taken longer than expected. IS&S expects to begin EASA certification shortly,” said Askarpour.
Another unique innovation is the flight deck's integration with Apple iPad. For pilots, the integration doubles as a secure communication keyboard interface, which they can use to remotely control radios, transponders, maps and flight-plan entry in addition to page modifications, the IS&S president said.
L-3’s Lynx NGT-9000R is featured within the retrofit package as well, as a way to satisfy the 2020 automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) Out pending airspace mandates in the U.S. and Europe.